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Having a baby should be one of the best moments of your life. For someone whose child suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence, however, it can be a devastating experience. Birth injuries can cause challenges and disabilities that can last a lifetime. Sometimes, children with birth injuries require physical therapy, medical treatment, special physical provisions and, down the road, special education and adult dependency provisions. These challenges can take a large physical, emotional and financial toll on the child’s family.
Sometimes birth defects are inevitable and do not result from an injury during birth. However, in many cases, medical negligence during the delivery of the child contributed to the birth injury. In these cases, the family can file a claim against the medical professionals whose negligence caused the injury.
Defining Medical Negligence
Negligence by a doctor or other health professional is an action that fails to meet the accepted standard of care. In California, a doctor is negligent if he/she “fails to use the level of skill, knowledge, and care in diagnosis and treatment that other reasonably careful [practitioners] would use in the same or similar circumstances” (California Civil Jury Instructions). Learn more about the medical standard of care in this post.
Birth Injuries Caused by Negligence
Some examples of birth injuries caused by medical negligence include:
- Hypoxia: This occurs when an infant’s brain is not receiving enough oxygen. Sometimes this occurs when the umbilical cord becomes tangled, or when there is infection or damage to the placenta. Doctors and nurses in labor and delivery are trained to detect hypoxia and intervene if it occurs. However, if the labor and delivery team does not act quickly and appropriately, hypoxia can cause mental and physical issues that might be permanent.
- C-Section Delay: Sometimes C-sections are planned ahead of time, but other times they are ordered because of complications during labor. If the baby is experience distress such as a sudden drop in heart rate, cord prolapse, uterine rupture or other issue, doctors can intervene and perform an emergency C-section. If the medical staff fails to identify the signs of fetal distress and order the C-section, serious injuries can occur.
- Vacuum or Forceps Injury: If the baby is having difficulty passing through the birth canal or is positioned improperly, the doctor might use a vacuum or forceps to assist with the delivery. If used improperly, these tools can cause serious harm to the baby.
- Errors in Prenatal Testing: There are several prenatal tests a pregnant woman undergoes during her pregnancy. If the doctor fails to order the appropriate tests, or misdiagnoses issues that should have reasonably been found in the tests, this could qualify as negligence.
These are just a few examples of how negligence can contribute to a birth injury. Others could include nursing staff failing to notify a doctor of a problem during labor, or failure to treat an infection.
Some medical conditions typically associated with birth injuries include:
- Blood clots/hemorrhages
- Birth asphyxia
- Strangulation/other injury caused by umbilical cord
- Cerebral palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
Proving Medical Malpractice in a Birth Injury Case
Proving liability in a birth injury case can be quite complicated. If your child has suffered a birth injury, it is imperative that you speak with a personal injury attorney with experience in birth injury cases as soon as possible. Your attorney will need to thoroughly investigate the claim to put together a solid case for medical malpractice. This will likely include examining medical records and consulting with medical experts to determine what happened during your delivery experience, and what should have happened to prevent a birth injury.
Compensation for a Birth Injury
Birth injuries can end up costing families significantly. While each case is different, the types of damages you can usually claim from a birth injury lawsuit include:
- Medical treatment, doctor visits, hospital stays, medication
- Physical therapy
- Home accommodations, such as wheelchair ramps
- Counseling and other mental health services
- Special education costs
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress
If you believe your child’s birth injury was a result of medical malpractice, make sure you consult with a personal injury attorney right away. The costs associated with the injury can add up quickly, and you also need to be mindful of the statute of limitations for medical malpractice (outlined here). Your personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and use their expertise to help you navigate the complicated legal process.
“Taking care of a newborn child is difficult enough—a birth injury only makes this more difficult and costly for parents. If your child suffered a birth injury due to medical negligence, consult with an attorney as soon as possible,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.
Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.
DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.
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